“Onome, please can you escort me to the bathroom?”, I asked in a quavering voice, looking at her from the classroom door. I had just returned from the loo and, I needed Onome to help me confirm what I was seeing.
“Grace, are you ok?” Onome asked walking towards me. “You were gone for a while. Are you purging? Mrs Horsefall will soon be in for her French class”.
“There is a problem, and I’m scared” I said walking briskly to the loo, pulling Onome behind me.
“OK, what’s the problem?” Onome asked on getting to our destination.
“Where. Did you fight. With who?” She asked, her eyes skimming round the open loo stalls.
We were the only ones in the loo.
“Down here” I said pointing shyly to the lower part of my torso.
“Where? Ohh…”Onome said, realization dawning on her. “Do you have a sanitary towel?”.
“No. I don’t know what to do. I just realised it must be my period from what you, Stella, Amina and I talked about sometime ago when you started yours” I said in a low voice.
“Your mum didn’t tell you about this?”.
“No. Maybe she felt it was still too early”.
“What! You’re eleven years. Hmm, never mind. Wait here, fortunately I’m at that time of the month, and have extra sanitary towel. Will get you one”. She turned to leave the room.
“Will you teach me how to use it?”.
“Huh? OK, I’ll teach you” she said, and left me to my thoughts.
This is a daily occurrence for most adolescents in Nigeria. They are left on their own, to discover what nature has to offer especially, when transitioning into puberty. Most parents find it unpleasant to have talks with their adolescents especially, when it has to do with reproductive health and their well-being.
It sounds distasteful. Solution? Let them find out on their own. After all, no one told them about it when they were their children’s age. They found out on their own, and they’re doing quite fine.
I sometimes wonder why any typical parent would easily tell you, “My parents raised me that way, and that’s the way I want to raise my child”. Kudos. I’ve got no problem with that. Just one thing though. For most parents who would argue in the above favour, why then would you give your child certain privileges that you know your parents blatantly denied you, even when they could afford to. Let me give you an instance. Agreed, your parents never educated you on reproductive health et al. I’m sure they also didn’t allow you watch certain programmes, listen to certain music, dress a certain way etc. So, it’s almost reasonable to understand the boundary.
In your case, you draw the boundary when it comes to sitting them down and teaching them about these unavoidable issues, yet provide them with IPads, IPhones, decoders etc. that will do that job for you, albeit by giving them the wrong information.
They are left to their own devices, to find out for themselves about puberty and the changes that come with it. You’re happy you escaped this one. Guess what? If you’re unlucky, and at this rate most will be, there will be no escape route when your children turn to what these social network would have turned them into. A bunch of misinformed adults, who are probably smart book wise, but lacking in their psychological and physical well-being.
Now, thanks to you, the society has a bunch of adult dependants.
All because, you felt it just wasn’t the right time. You were waiting for the right time which is probably when she’s about to get married at thirty. Then you seat her down to talk to her about boys and her body. The boys on the other hand, who are called men thanks to obvious physical changes, are left to their own devices. They end up becoming their wife’s problem to sort out.
We have a choice to make here as parents. Take the bull by the horns and do the needful or bear the burden of being neglectful. Trust me, these adolescents know more than they’re letting on. They need to know about the natural physics of their bodies and mind. To you their parents, they are children. To their friends, they are on course.
“First you have to survive adolescence; then your education. Finally, yourself”. – Martin Rubin.